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Rabbi's Blog: Remembering Rene Slotkin z'l

06/29/2023 01:50:48 PM



Dear OZ family,


Today. The 10th of Tammuz, is the first yahrzeit of Rene Slotkin, who was a fixture at Ohab Zedek for over 50 years. Rene had a significant impact on anyone he met. His life was suffused with Yirat Shamayim, and Ahavat Hashem, to the point of profound inspiration. Rene, his sister, Irene and their parents were taken to Auschwitz in 1943. His parents were murdered shortly after arriving, and the two siblings wouldn’t have lasted a single day if not for the diabolical obsession the Auschwitz doctor had with twins. Irene was a few minutes older than Rene and she was the one upon whom the despicable doctors at Auschwitz performed their experiments, while Rene was their control. All of his earliest memories are of being in a cage, watching horrific things being done to his twin sister. His arm was tattooed as an infant with a number that gave much meaning to him in his last years.


Rene could certainly have been forgiven for being angry with his lot. He could have been resentful with humanity, nature and everything around him. Yet Rene was the calmest, kindest, most serene person anyone could know. I don’t usually pass on hyperbole of this sort, but Rene was all this and more. I also knew Irene quite well, and anyone could say the same for her. Instead of anger they both spread good will. Instead of resentment, they both spread love. A movie was made about their lives, called "Rene and I," and I highly recommend it (


Rene’s number was a series of ones, sixes, nines and zeroes. All these numbers can be turned upside down to be read as numbers, as the zeroes and ones remain the same and the sixes and nines switch. If Rene held his hand one way, the numerical value of his number was 26. Held the other way, it was 23. Rene said that the 26 was a constant reminder of God in his life as that is the numerical value of God’s ineffable name, while the 23 reminded him of the 23rd Psalm, The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not lack. Rene taped a segment on this, with Eitan Katz, which has been seen by many thousands of people ( Rene received a number to reduce him to an object, lower than an animal. The advanced culture that created Auschwitz murdered over one million children, and Rene and Irene would have been a number among them if not for the sinister interest of one of the most despicable people to have ever walked the earth, may his name be erased.


In the end, Rene won and so have all of us for having known him. May Hashem bless the beautiful family he created. May they all have many years to carry on his legacy and promote his undying faith in God and in people. May Hashem grant good health and many years to his wife, June, who was every bit his match in kindness, serenity and faith.  Yehi Zichro Baruch.  


Stay well and healthy.

Rabbi Allen Schwartz


Rabbi Allen Schwartz

Congregation Ohab Zedek

118 West 95th Street

New York, NY  10025-6604

Phone 212.749-5150, ext 200 




Sat, September 30 2023 15 Tishrei 5784